CHELSEA | SW3
If you thought of well-heeled Chelsea as an unlikely spot for a good cheap eat in London, think again.
The cheekily named Phat Phuc Noodle Bar can be found in a quaint courtyard just off Kings Road. It's completely outside, but the seating area is both covered, heated and has wind breaks, for when it needs to contend with the poor British weather. You order at the counter where all the cooking takes place, then your food is brought over at your table when it's ready. Or, you can take away.
The menu mostly covers Vietnamese classics, and every main is £8. The recommendation I'd received from others was to go for the laksa, which is also the response I got when I asked the staff what their most popular dish was. Interestingly, it's the least Vietnamese thing on the menu. But hey ho.
You can choose from chicken, beef, prawns or vegetables, all for the same price, and each time you'll receive a bowl of made-from-scratch, life-affirming, coconut-ty goodness, with spot on levels of heat (you'll need those tissues), hints of lemongrass, and plenty of rice noodles. There are also several condiments you can fill your boots with on the tables.
It was a terrific solo lunch, and the place was buzzing - don't be surprised to share a table when it's busy. You can't make a reservation, but it's unlikely you'd ever have to wait too long for something to free up. These guys are open every day of the week until 6pm, so you can even squeeze in an early dinner. Plus, they serve beers and wine by the glass too. I will most definitely be eating her again next time I'm in the area.
Words and photography | Leyla Kazim